Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for June 6th, 2011

Green lily buds beginning to open

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I was fascinated this spring, as I’ve been for the past few years, by the little colony of green lilies, also known as Texas sabadilla and Schoenocaulon texanum, that I found growing in the right-of-way beneath some heavy-duty power lines in my neighborhood. The Austin area is at the eastern edge of the range of this species, which extends as far west as New Mexico.

Before the buds of green lily open they resemble little reddish clenched fists; at least that’s how they look to me, and I plead guilty to the charge of anthropomorphism in the first degree.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

(Here is information about Schoenocaulon texanum, including a clickable map showing where the species grows.)

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 6, 2011 at 1:57 PM

Bird on the Wire

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Of course I’m reminded of the opening lines of Leonard Cohen’s great song:

Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir,
I have tried in my way to be free.

I’ve never been a drunk in a midnight choir, but some would say I’m drunk on photography. And while I photograph primarily plants, I have occasionally taken pictures of birds. To do good bird photography normally requires a long (and heavy) telephoto lens, a tripod, and lots of patience. Not my usual thing. Nevertheless, armed with a 200mm image-stabilized lens and 1.4x converter I marched forth several times this past fall to photograph the grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus) that were massing for weeks on power lines in certain parts of Austin as late afternoon gave way to evening each day.

The birds were dark, the sky was bright, and some high contrast processing led to what seems to be but isn’t a black and white image.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 6, 2011 at 1:17 PM

Sunflower’s New Leaves

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June is the prime month for sunflowers, and in spite of the severe drought in Texas they’re abundant here this year. A couple of weeks ago the plants were just beginning to flower, and I spent time photographing a field of them on the prairie in northeast Austin. Although I’ve seen and photographed sunflower buds many times before, somehow I’d never paid attention to the new leaves that surround the buds. To give you a sense of scale, let me point out that the leaf shown here was only about an inch long. The hairiness of sunflowers that has long fascinated me is even more in evidence here than on the plant’s stalks.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

(Here is information about Helianthus annuus, including a clickable map showing where the species grows.)

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 6, 2011 at 12:07 PM

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